I love this time of year. Winter is slowly disappearing, being phased out by the loving warm embrace of Spring, and the promise that it brings. The NFL pre-season reminds us of how terrible the rest of the year is without professional football (with one of our own embarking on the start of what is sure to be a wonderful career). And thanks to the GV Committee moving our season, we are gearing up for the playoffs surrounded by some beautiful weather for tiny handed quarterbacks like myself to operate in. Life is good. And so are the slate of Division 1 contests we have for you in Week 10.
Saturday August 20 – Ranger Field, Croydon – 2pm
Croydon Rangers (2nd Place, 5-2-1) vs South Eastern Predators (6th Place, 2-5)
Last Time: Week 3, 2016: Rangers 38, Predators 0
The Rangers played out Division 1’s only tie for the season with Melbourne Uni last Sunday, while the Beasts from the South East grinded out a win over the Miners.
Croydon are coming off of a flat two week period where they have not played their best football, and appear to have been overmatched physically against hungrier teams. This must change for them to have even the slightest chance of defending their title. The Predators have been decimated by injuries and lack of numbers over the past month, and will need all hands on deck to make any noise down the stretch in the hope of causing upsets.
Both defensive backfields have a wealth of talent and will play a huge part in the result if this game goes to the air. Ben Clark for the Preds is coming off of a Player of the Week performance, while Liam Fordham is having a Defensive MVP calibre season at the safety spot for the Rangers. Watch out for these two.
Stafford’s “Last Game at Ranger Field for a Whole Year” Prediction: Rangers ??, Predators ??
Saturday August 20 – Maryvale Reserve, Morwell – 10:30am
Monash Warriors (1st Place, 7-1) vs Berwick Miners (Last Place, 0-8)
Last Time: Week 3, 2016: Warriors 68, Miners 6
Monash sent a strong statement to the rest of the league with a 44-13 thumping of the Buccaneers. The Miners put in the best performance of the year with an 8-0 loss to the Predators, albeit with loan players from the Pakenham Silverbacks.
The Warriors fed the horse early and often last Sunday, with Luke Jackson going for 150 yards and 4 touchdowns in probably his best game for the year. Jackson, Dom Dearman and Travis de Niese are starting to form a nice Smith/Aikman/Irvin type trio and look to be hitting their straps at the right time of year. Berwick looked better with their starting Quarterback in Brad Ferguson back, and they are getting quality service from 16 year old lineman Thomas Watson, who has as much heart as anyone playing in the league.
Monash will coast in this one, as they gear up for yet another assault on a VicBowl.
Stafford’s “Morwell that Ends Well” Prediction: Warriors 54, Miners 0
Sunday August 21 – Henry Turner Reserve, Maribyrnong – 2pm
Western Crusaders (3rd Place, 5-2) vs Geelong Buccaneers (4th Place, 4-4)
Last Time: Week 3, 2016: Crusaders 10, Buccaneers 6
The Crusaders come into this one off of the bye week, while Geelong will be licking their wounds after a heavy pounding from the Warriors at Royal Park.
The Buccaneers have made a change at quarterback, with the returning Denholm Hayter replacing veteran Daniel Noonan for team balance. Geelong are another team struggling with injuries at key spots and have not been their usual consistent selves in patches this season. The Crusaders on the other hand appear to have the most even spread of talent in the league and are firing on all cylinders, driven and keen to atone for their semi-final loss last season. Safety Andrew James has been outstanding so far this year.
This is a huge game for the Buccs, who could face the real possibility of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008 if they can’t turn things around. Unfortunately for them, the Cru is probably the toughest test in the league right now, and they should take this one out.
Stafford’s “Hayter in the House” Prediction: Crusaders 24, Buccaneers 12
Happy Football this week everybody, hope you enjoy the games at all venues.